As the American Cancer Society celebrates its 100th year in the fight to end cancer, it is encouraging smokers to use the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 21 to make a plan to quit smoking and help finish the fight against tobacco. While smoking has decreased significantly since the 1950s, more than 43 million Americans – nearly one in five adults – still smoke, according to the American Cancer Society.
"We’ve made substantial progress in the fight against tobacco since 1954, when an American Cancer Society study confirmed the link between smoking and lung cancer," said Gary Streit, a longtime key American Cancer Society volunteer from Cedar Rapids. "However, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Quitting smoking can save your life, and the Great American Smokeout is a great way to start."
Since the 1950s, Society funded-research has helped scientists understand the role of tobacco in cancer development. Working tirelessly in the fight against tobacco to educate consumers on the dangers of smoking, the Society provides support to those who want to kick the habit and mobilizes communities to implement public policies that save lives.
From 1965 to today, cigarette smoking among adults in the U.S. decreased from more than 42 percent to around 19 percent. In Iowa, the current adult smoking rate is 18.1 percent. Currently, smoke-free workplace laws protect 49 percent of the U.S. population from the dangers of secondhand smoke, while in Iowa, that figure is 99 percent. Yet about 43.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. Smoking-related diseases remain the world’s most preventable cause of death. Every six seconds, someone in the world dies because of tobacco use.
The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. One million people gave up smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California. Now, the Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good. Find tips and tools online to help you quit smoking at www.cancer.org/smokeout.
While current smokers are encouraged to use the day to make a plan to quit, non-smokers are asked to take action that will help finish the fight against tobacco, such as:
• Tell lawmakers the fight against tobacco must be a priority. Become an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocate at ACSCAN.org.
• Encourage friends and family members to visit cancer.org for tools to help them quit.
• Spread the word. Visit cancer.org/smokeout for printable resources to post at your office, church, school, etc.
• Make a donation to fund research and smoking cessation programs that will help save more lives faster.